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Hands free is dangerous

1 August 2006

New research suggests that using a hands-free kit while at the wheel is as dangerous as drink driving.

The study by the University of UTAH in the US, found people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a mobile phone, as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood alcohol limit.

In the Utah study, 40 participants drove a driving simulator four times - once each while not distracted, using a mobile phone, using a hands-free phone, and while intoxicated to the 0.08 per cent blood-alcohol level after drinking vodka and orange juice.

They followed a simulated "pace" car that braked intermittently. The researchers found that both hand-held and hands-free phones impaired driving, with no significant difference in the degree of impairment recorded. The study found that compared with drivers who were not distracted, those who talked on either hand-held or hands-free phones drove slightly slower and were nine per cent slower to hit the brakes.

But it is not only hands free-kits for mobile phones that cause distractions to motorists, a rise in satellite navigation systems, mp3 players and in car gadgets all adds to the distractions motorists face when behind the wheel. A survey by http://www.motorinsurance.co.uk  found that nearly three-quarters of motorists believe the systems are potentially dangerous.